10 Animal Books That Will Make You Dog Ear the Pages

Looking for animal books for the pet lover in your life? Here are 10 animal books for dog lovers, cat keepers, hedgehog fans, and more!

10 Animal Books That Will Make You Dog Ear the Pages

Aug 28, 2020

10 Animal Books That Will Make You Dog Ear the Pages

Have you been finding time to read? Here in Washington State, we lounge in a hammock with a page turner in the summer months and cozy up near the fire with a fur baby during the rainy winter months. Nothing beats a good book, especially if it’s about our favorite subject, animals! We at Run Those Dogs read plenty of training books, how to’s and pet guides throughout the year, but we made this list of animal books that leave the work behind and simply focus on the fun. We’ve collected this list of 10 animal books that will suck you in, make you laugh or cry, and share some of the incredible, heroic stories where the lives of people and animals become uniquely intertwined.


Before you buy, PAWse for a moment and remember to support your public library and independent book stores to help keep them alive during this unprecedented time in our history. Not sure where to shop? Sniff out the local book stores near you! We’ve included the genre and the Good Reads score below help you choose which to read first. animal books


Animal books Ellen CooneyThe Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances by Ellen Cooney 

Good Reads Score: 3.3 out of 5

If you’re looking for an enthralling escape read that also explores the inexplicable bond between dogs of almost any breed and their humans, you’ll love this heartfelt, hilarious and deeply moving novel. 


“The Sanctuary is a refuge for strays and rescued dogs. Evie has joined a training program there despite knowing almost nothing about animals. Like the greyhound who won’t move, the Rottweiler with attitude problems, or the hound who might be a candidate for search-and-rescue, Evie has a troubled past. But as they all learn, no one should stay prisoner to a life they didn’t choose….[These] humans and canines help each other find new lives, new selves, and new hope.”


What people are saying:

“Dog lovers rejoice! Cooney has crafted a feel-good, canine-filled tale of cross-generational friendship, healing, and solidarity.” —Publishers Weekly


“What Ellen Cooney captures so brilliantly here is the psychological and emotional similarities between dogs and people –the way both respond to trauma and pain, and the way love and kindness can heal even the deepest wounds. The Mountaintop School for Dogs is a celebration of the bond that has brought canines and humans together for thousands of years. This book will grab your heart and not let go.” —John Grogan, author of Marley & Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog animal books



Animal books Mary MillerBiloxi by Mary Miller

Good Reads Score: 3.3 out of 5

If, like us, your life has been profoundly changed by the friendship of a canine, you’ll relate to this story of the love formed between Louis and Layla.


“This is a surprisingly funny story about a down-on-his-luck guy, Louis, who just can’t get a break. His wife dumped him, his dad died, and he gave up his job in expectation of a windfall that isn’t materializing. Then he meets a very good dog named Layla.

Louis’ bond with Layla changes him, transforming him from a comically unlikable individual to a person with a proverbial second chance.”


What people are saying:

“Miller, an absolute master of minutiae, relates Louis’ innermost self with poignancy and humor that never sacrifice an ounce of realism.” — Annie Bostrom, Booklist


“Excellent…. A witty, insightful exploration of masculinity and self-worth…. Miller captures the insecurities of an imperfect man beyond his prime as he tries to find his purpose in the world, and the result is a charming and terrific novel.” — Publishers Weekly animal books




hedgehog books Carolyn ParkerHedgehog Wisdom: Little Reasons to Smile by Carolyn Parker 

Coffee Table Read – Animal edition
Good Reads Score: 4 out of 5

We know from experience that pet parenthood extends well beyond dogs and cats. Run Those Dogs is available to care for other small animals as well. There is plenty of room in our hearts for animals of all kinds. This adorable collection will make you smile and remind you that every day is filled with opportunities to appreciate the little things, including baby hedgies.


“Full of good vibes, positivity, and cute little quill-balls, Hedgehog Wisdom will chase the clouds away and leave you smiling with every turn of the page!”


“Let’s get quilly! Based on the popular Instagram Huffy Hedgehogs, Hedgehog Wisdom is an adorable collection of nature’s cutest stress reliever, the hedgehog. Along with her faithful hedgies Hodge Huffington and Marshmallow Fluff, author Carolyn Parker couples positive affirmation with pictures of roly-poly hedgehogs having the times of their lives.”


Animal books Neil AbramsonJust Life by Neil Abramson

Mystery Thriller
Good Reads Score: 4 out of 5

For you fans of suspense, we had to include this page turner. Written before the coronavirus changed everyone’s life, this book will feel close to home for most everyone.


“Just Life is a fast-paced thriller about Dr. Samantha Lewis, a veterinarian who runs a no-kill dog rescue in New York. When a mysterious virus breaks out in her neighborhood, affecting children and animals, Sam sets out on a mission to uncover the cause.”


What people are saying:

“Rarely has a novel captured so movingly the deep bonds between people and the animals that share their lives.” – Parade Magazine on Unsaid


Read it with the lights on. And remember, it’s fiction!



Animal books Sy MontgomeryHow to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals by Sy Montgomery

Good Reads Score: 4.1 out of 5

For some, memoir is the most interesting genre because it dives deep into someone’s real life. Sy Mongomery’s How to Be a Good Creature is no exception.


“National Book Award finalist Sy Montgomery reflects on the personalities and quirks of 13 animals—her friends—who have profoundly affected her in this stunning, poetic, and life-affirming memoir featuring illustrations by Rebecca Green.


Understanding someone who belongs to another species can be transformative. No one knows this better than author, naturalist, and adventurer Sy Montgomery. To research her books, Sy has traveled the world and encountered some of the planet’s rarest and most beautiful animals. From tarantulas to tigers, Sy’s life continually intersects with and is informed by the creatures she meets.


This restorative memoir reflects on the personalities and quirks of thirteen animals—Sy’s friends—and the truths revealed by their grace. It also explores vast themes: the otherness and sameness of people and animals; the various ways we learn to love and become empathetic; how we find our passion; how we create our families; coping with loss and despair; gratitude; forgiveness; and most of all, how to be a good creature in the world.”


What people are saying:

“Naturalist Sy Montgomery rekindles her dormant childhood desire to talk with animals in a narrative that shimmers with grace and wonder. Ten tales poignantly personify 13 critters both commonplace and exotic, from Tess the border collie and Chris the extroverted pig to spiders and octopuses. “Many young girls worship their older sisters… [Mine] was a dog, and I… wanted to be just like her: Fierce. Feral. Unstoppable,” …Montgomery’s lyrical storytelling and resonant lessons on how animals can enhance our humanity result in a tender, intelligent literary memoir.” —Publisher’s Weekly animal books


Animal books Jennifer CaloyerasStrays by Jennifer Caloyeras

Young Adult Novel
Good Reads Score: 4.2 out of 5

The teen in your life will enjoy the humor and tug on the heartstrings in this coming-of-age story. 


“Forced to spend her summer doing community service because of an uncontrollable temper, sixteen-year-old Iris Moody hasn’t been dealt that greatest hand and she is frustrated that she’ll have to spend her whole summer rehabilitating dogs. But then she meets Roman, a three-legged pit bull, and a touching, humorous, and unforgettable story unfolds. “


What people are saying:


“Strays tells what happens when two wandering creatures find one another, overcoming their fears to make friends and rise above their dark reputations…Young adults who want a story of more than an animal rescue or a sixteen-year-old’s angst will find Strays a compelling saga.” – D. Donovan, Senior Book Reviewer, Midwest Book Review




poetry Mary OliverDog Songs: Poems by Mary Oliver

Good Reads Score: 4.2 out of 5

You poetry lovers will appreciate this Pulitzer-Prize-winning collection inspired by Mary Oliver’s love for the canines who have shared her writer’s life.


“Mary Oliver’s Dog Songs is a celebration of the special bond between human and dog, as understood through the poet’s relationships to the canines that have accompanied her daily walks, warmed her home, and inspired her work. Oliver’s poems begin in the small everyday moments familiar to all dog lovers, but through her extraordinary vision, these observations become higher meditations on the world and our place in it.


Dog Songs includes visits with old friends, like Oliver’s beloved Percy, and introduces still others in poems of love and laughter, heartbreak and grief. Throughout, the many dogs of Oliver’s life merge as fellow travelers and as guides, uniquely able to open our eyes to the lessons of the moment and the joys of nature and connection. “


What people are saying:

“The popularity of [Dog Songs] feels as inevitable and welcome as a wagging tail upon homecoming.” —The Boston Globe


Perhaps Oliver’s work will inspire you to write some pet poetry of your own? Share your favorite animal poetry books in the comments below.



Animal books Seth CasteelUnderwater Dogs and Pounce by Seth Casteel 

Coffee Table Reads – Animal edition
Good Reads Score: 4.4 out of 5

Photography fans will love these two visually stimulating books that capture our favorite furry friends delighting in the motion of their lives. 


“From the water’s surface, it’s a simple exercise: a dog’s leap, a splash, and then a wet head surfacing with a ball, triumphant.


But beneath the water is a chaotic ballet of bared teeth and bubbles, paddling paws, fur and ears billowing in the currents. From leaping Lab to diving Dachshund, the water is where a dog’s distinct personality shines through; some lounge in the current, paddling slowly, but others arch their bodies to cut through the water with the focus and determination of a shark.”


What people are saying:Animal books Seth Casteel

“In more than eighty portraits, award-winning pet photographer and animal rights activist Seth Casteel captures new sides of our old friends with vibrant underwater photography that makes it impossible to look away. Each image bubbles with exuberance and life, a striking reminder that even in the most loveable and domesticated dog, there are more primal forces at work. In Underwater Dogs, Seth Casteel gives playful and energetic testament to the rough-and-tumble joy that our dogs bring into our lives.”


We can’t forget cat lovers either. Run Those Dogs loves and cares for cats too so we were delighted by Pounce. “A beautiful, funny gift book with more than 70 previously unpublished photographs, Pounce reveals adorable cats and kittens as they pounce and jump through the air, arms outstretched, all in Casteel’s signature up-close, mid-action style.”


You’ll love seeing these adorable fur balls in all their glorious, acrobatic motion. animal books


pit bulls pitbulls Bronwen Dickey animal books Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon by Bronwen Dickey

Good Reads Score: 4.4 out of 5

We had to share this fascinating book about a misunderstood breed that is close to our hearts. Pit bulls and the breeds that are often lumped into the group have become a controversial breed. Both feared and adored by many, they are often the most common breed to be euthanized and the last to be adopted from your local shelters. No matter what breed or breed mix your dog is, you’ll find the history, politics and cultural influence of this complex breed group a fascinating read.


“When Bronwen Dickey brought her new dog home, she saw no traces of the infamous viciousness in her affectionate pit bull. Which made her wonder: How had the breed—beloved by Teddy Roosevelt and Helen Keller—come to be known as a brutal fighter? Dickey’s search for answers takes her from nineteenth-century New York dogfighting pits to early twentieth‑century movie sets, from the battlefields of Gettysburg to struggling urban neighborhoods. In this illuminating story of how a popular breed became demonized–and what role humans have played in the transformation–Dickey offers us an insightful view of Americans’ relationship with their dogs.”


If you’re a pibble fan, you might also enjoy our Run Those Dogs blog about this fascinating, and often misunderstood breed. animal books




manga Paru itagackiBEASTARS by Paru Itagaki

Japanese Manga Series
Good Reads Score: 4.5 out of 5

If you’re not familiar, manga is a genre of Japanese comic book or graphic novel. They’ve become incredibly popular, and this particular series by Paru Itagaki does not disappoint. But don’t be fooled by the fact that it is a cartoon. Although animated, manga story lines are often aimed at young adults and mature adults.


Have you ever wondered how your life were different if humans were a prey species? Or if you had to be more of a predator to survive in your daily life. Beastars takes you through both of those scenarios.


“At a high school where the students are literally divided into predators and prey, it’s personal relationships that maintain the fragile peace. Who among them is a Beastar—an academic and social role model destined to become a leader in a society naturally rife with mistrust?


What people are saying:

“Paru Itagaki began her professional career as a manga author in 2016 with the short story collection Beast ComplexBeastars is her first serialization. Beastars has won multiple awards in Japan, including the prestigious 2018 Manga Taisho Award.”


You can also get a taste of the genre by checking out the Netflix series that came out in March 2020.


If you’ve read any of the above, please let us know what you thought in the comments below. This is just scratching the surface of the animal books you can explore. We couldn’t include them all here, so please help us out by sharing your favorites in the comments below. We’ll look forward to reading your suggestions. 

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